I don't set official New Year's resolutions (TOO MUCH PRESSURE), but like birthdays and September and spring-time, I do love the periodic opportunity to reset and refresh. To make sure the life I'm living aligns with the life I intended to live, and when I'm off-track, to feel empowered to make a change.
In 2016, my "word of the year" was "commit." Fitting, because I had just gotten married and we were about to have a baby at the brink of those twelve months. I wanted to spend more time focused on family (learning how to be a parent and a better partner), home (maternity leave plus enjoying weekends here in town) career (more responsibility and more freelancing) and a sense of being grounded (less hustle, fewer possessions). As I look back on the year, I feel pretty content in that work, and as I look ahead at 2017, I want much of the same.
Rather than pick a word for 2017, though, I did a values exercise to identify, well, my values. It was hard (c/o Jami). Essentially, it involved grouping 200 words in three categories: very important to me, somewhat important to me, and not important to me--and then picking five words out of the "very important" category as your values. The whole thing is timed so you can't overthink it, which turned out to be pretty crucial.
My words: honesty, passion, growth, humor and solitude.
My reaction to these: ha, universe, okay, okay. You got me. If I had controlled the little exercise to choose my words, I probably would've selected "family," "community," "creativity" and so forth. The words I thought would (and let's be honest, *should*) define my values were very different than the others that, push come to shove, actually lived at the forefront of my heart, mind and spirit.
Honesty: what I vowed a few years ago to put first after straying from my own integrity a bit; to be true to myself, my partner, my family and my friends even when it is uncomfortable, awkward, overwhelming or straight up disruptive. Because even when honesty is those things, it also brings an irreplaceable, clear feeling of alignment and being at home with myself.
Passion: I used to make all decisions with my heart and none with my head, which got me into trouble a lot. I also used to equate passion with recklessness and drama, rather than excitement and purpose and creativity. Now, that doesn't mean I'm flipping the script entirely, just that I've been working on how to build passion into my daily life in a way that doesn't damage the foundation. I'm also learning that passion doesn't always look sexy; it often shows up like diligent, hard work, day-in and day-out.
Growth: I am finding that I need to temper my desire for change with my competing need for stability. Growth is also, naturally, terrifying because it requires putting myself out there and trying new things when I'd rather be watching UnREAL on the couch. The past year held a ton of growth in relationship to my writing, and I want to continue to push past my edges this coming year as well. Which will mean rejection, and that's going to need to be okay.
Humor: As part of the completion of my 200-hr yoga teacher training, we sat in a circle and pulled rocks with phrases on them out of a bag. My rock said "play" on it. . . and I think of that little rock almost every day, because the concept of "play" does not come naturally to me. It's not that I don't know how to have fun or laugh or be silly, but I more frequently lean to depth, seriousness, structure, coolness. I usually have to remind myself to lighten up and relax, and I've noticed this quality more and more as I now parent my son. I want humor and play to be a natural part of my life.
Solitude: Self-care, yo. All the time. In 2016, I got fairly selfish, especially toward the end of the year, and spent significant chunks of time at home or by myself. I felt constantly depleted and wrung out, particularly because of suffering from bouts of anxiety, but also because I needed to replenish myself. As an extroverted introvert, I need solitude to recharge; without it, I go downhill fast. This proves to be challenging as I build a writing career, a marriage, friendships, a home, but so necessary to my well-being.
I did this exercise, and then I figured I could just keep these words in my pocket as a quick reference in daily decision-making, right? However, my type-A nature won out and I wanted to do something more tangible to hold myself accountable. I decided to write a short post each month that identifies five things to focus on in the spirit of these values.
- HONESTY: Ask for help with E instead of trying to do it all myself.
- PASSION: Kiss and hug my husband every day.
- GROWTH: Write eight blog posts, not including this one!
- HUMOR: Be silly every day.
- SOLITUDE: Avoid social media an hour before bedtime and an hour after waking up.
Even when writing those, I had to rewrite at least three times to make them as specific as possible so that the action is doable in a way that ladders up to the broader sentiment. And of course, there are other intentions on my mental list (drink more water, do yoga, call people instead of texting, eat more veggies, blah blah blah) as I look ahead at the next 365 days. But for me, these words and values are the ruling principles behind everything I do in 2017. There's no winning or losing, no succeeding or failing, just an attempt to be mindful and build habits and see what sticks.